Hours away from the hustle and bustle of Seattle is a wonderful place where you can escape from modern life. Paradise Ridge is located in Mt. Rainier National Park and is the premier place to get the full Mt. Rainier experience. I have the pleasure of living within view of Mt. Rainier. All I need to do is step outside my house to get an amazing view of the mountain. Paradise Ridge is the main access point for day hikers who want to enjoy the park.
Unlike some trails that are only for experienced hikers, the facilities at Paradise Ridge are appropriate for everyone. I’ve always enjoyed coming up to Paradise Ridge since I was a small child. As someone who grew up in the shadow of the mountain, I can’t help but feel an attraction to the mountain like so many others. What is it about this place that leads people to spend a day or weekend in the mountains away from society? Read and find out.
What to See?
The first place you should visit when you arrive at Paradise Ridge is the Visitor’s Center. The Visitor’s Center has a decent café, educational exhibits and access to Park Rangers. Speak with the Rangers to find out the day’s trail conditions. Although Paradise Ridge is open from Spring through the Fall, the best time to visit is during July or August when the trail conditions are perfect. Take the Park Ranger’s advice seriously so that you can have a fun time without any problems arising.
Drop off your luggage at Paradise Ridge if you are staying there (I’ll discuss the Lodge in more detail later) and start hiking. The entire trail lasts four hours and can be tedious for the inexperienced. Thankfully there are signs that let you know when it’s about to become difficult so that you can turn back if need be. No matter what your skill level is, I recommend going up to the first difficulty change sign so that you can snap a picture of Mt. Rainier in all her glory. Continue onwards and experience nature’s bounty as you make your way around the ridge itself.
What to Eat?
There are two options available besides packing in your own food. The cheaper option is eating the Visitor Center’s café. There you can find sandwiches, nachos and salads. They also sell trail foods for you to pack in your backpack if you don’t already have your gear in order. The tastier option if you have the time for it is to eat at the Lodge’s full service restaurant. It’s a great place to get a pick-me-up after a long hike even if you aren’t staying overnight.
What’s the Cultural Value?
This place has a high cultural value for two reasons. The first is the Mt. Rainier is one of the oldest national parks in the nation. It was founded on March 2nd 1899 and is the fifth oldest national park in existence. Paradise Ridge is in the heart of the park allowing you to fully take in the wonderful national treasure that is Mt. Rainier.
The second reason is the Lodge itself. Paradise Lodge was built in 1916 and is one of the oldest national park hotels in continued operation. Stepping inside the lodge is like going back in time to simpler days. Even if you don’t spend the night, I recommend checking out the wooden interior of the lodge so that you can appreciate the fine craftsmanship that has survived through the years.
Recommended Place to Stay
As I mentioned earlier, Paradise Lodge is the place to stay if you want to enjoy a relaxing weekend up in the mountains. The rooms have been renovated through the years and you can buy everything you need on site. Wake up early in the morning to beat the heat for your hike or lounge around in one of the comfortable chairs in the lobby. If you don’t want to stay up in the mountains, the nearest major city is Tacoma if you’re coming from the Western side of the state and Yakima if you’re coming from the Eastern side.
How Is the Overall Rating?
I absolutely adore this place. Even though it’s not as famous as some parks like Yellowstone, it’s just as beautiful and worth the visit. Visiting Washington during the summer and not stopping here is a tragic mistake in my opinion. Paradise Ridge has everything you need to enjoy the outdoors: beautiful weather, excellent trails and perfect services. This stellar venue is a 5/5 because it truly is what I would consider one of the best places in the Evergreen State.